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Nov. 11: Jim Daniels' New Film, "Mr. Pleasant," Debuts at Three Rivers Film Festival

Contact: Shilo Raube / 412-268-6094 /

Jim Daniels' New Film, "Mr. Pleasant,"
Debuts at Three Rivers Film Festival

CMU English Professor Turns Working-Class Stereotype Upside Down

PITTSBURGH—Every middle-class college student aspires to "get out" — to break away from their roots so they can make it big. But often just getting out is not enough.

"Mr. Pleasant," a new film written and produced by Carnegie Mellon University's Jim Daniels, tells the story of "Red," a college student from a working-class Detroit family who mistakenly thinks that simply escaping his hometown is enough to fix his life and open opportunities for him. Daniels, along with the film's director, Point Park University teaching artist John Rice, will debut "Mr. Pleasant" at 9:15 p.m., Friday, Nov. 19 at the Regent Square Theater as part of the 2010 Three Rivers Film Festival.

"The theme of 'Mr. Pleasant,' similar to many of my other stories, poems and screenplays, is the working-class stereotype that the goal for everyone should be to get out," said Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English and Detroit native. "I want to turn that stereotype on its head and instead portray the idea that people shouldn't spend all of their time working towards other people's definition of success."

Shot mostly in Pittsburgh, the film covers one weekend of Red's life and takes place mostly in a car. Unsure of how he fits into his new college life, Red starts making bad choices as a way to compensate for his insecurities. Through a series of events from staying at a party longer than his friends and losing his ride home, to meeting a young woman and interacting with new types of people, Red is forced to confront his own prejudices and simplistic worldview and think about the aimless, self-destructive life he's been living at college.

"Mr. Pleasant" was funded by Daniels' Berkman Faculty Development Grant from Carnegie Mellon and Rice's grant from the Point Park University Faculty Development Fund. This is the third film that Daniels and Rice have collaborated on; the other two are 2005's "Dumpster" and 1994's "No Pets," directed by Tony Buba, for which Daniels wrote the screenplay and Rice was the director of photography.

Carnegie Mellon connections to "Mr. Pleasant" include music from Creative Writing Program alumni Billy Price, Jesse Kates, Michael Gabriel and Michael Kaniecki, music from the School of Music's Benjamin Opie and other alumni who worked as part of the film's crew.

Daniels has taught creative writing at Carnegie Mellon since 1981. His books include "From Milltown to Malltown" and "Having a Little Talk with Capital P Poetry," forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2011. In 2007, Daniels was awarded the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize for "Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies." He also has received the Brittingham Prize for Poetry, two fellowships from the National Endowments for the Arts and two from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His poems have appeared in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies.

The Nov. 19 debut of "Mr. Pleasant" is the only time it is scheduled to screen in Pittsburgh. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Watch a trailer of "Mr. Pleasant" at or visit the movie's website at